Joanna Lumley


My letter is dedicated to George and Frederick Lumley, my great uncles, both of whom lost their lives in World War One.

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Joanna Lumley


Dear Boy,

I can’t stop thinking about you as you head off for the great adventure in France. You look very marvellous in your uniform: it is funny how a uniform turns a boy into a man so quickly.

I just wanted to say goodbye properly before you leave on the train, to remind you that even though you are excited now, things will change; and sometimes you will feel very wretched and frightened and not bright and happy as you were when the train pulled out of the station and you were all singing and waving your caps.

Always remember that you must take care of your friends and mates who will be having a rough time as well: try to keep your spirits up, even when it looks darker than hell. I don’t know how sorely you will be tested but at all times be as brave and kind as can be. I have put some cough lozenges in your kitbag and a vest for when it is cold. Remember to read, as that will take your mind off the guns. Look out for birds and flowers, as they are the signs that in the end all will be well; and if you meet local people please be polite (Bonjour, merci, au revoir).

Will you write to me? Writing is like an escape, and that is why I am writing this now, as I think that if I saw you I would cry my eyes out at having to say goodbye.

I don’t know what will happen, but every day and every moment I will be thinking of you, my Boy.

Come back safely
Your loving mother

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